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Prime Time bullish on peppers

By keeping themselves involved in all aspects of the production chain, Prime Time International, headquartered in Coachella, CA, is able to provide premium quality peppers 365 days a year.

Eric Meyer, head of sales at the company’s Nogales, AZ-based office, said in addition to the year-round supply of all the different color peppers, the green house peppers run from mid-October to early May.

“It’s an important area that helps us bridge Mexico crossing into Nogales. It’s tremendous volume for us,” he said. “In Nogales, we’ll do green peppers, field red and shade house reds as well as the greenhouse red, yellow and orange peppers. In addition, we handle the mini-peppers.”

In Mexico, the company grows thousands of acres in Baja, and has hot houses and packing facilities in the area so it can provide a constant supply throughout the market.

Meyer noted the commitment of the growers is one of the reasons things are so strong.

“The climate in Mexico is great. It’s a very fertile soil in the valley and we produce outstanding peppers there,” Meyer said. “We also produce outstanding quality peppers in Baja, CA, and those cross up through San Diego.”

The same is true in the areas of Culiacan and Jalisco, where the pepper plants grow exceptionally well.

“The market conditions for peppers is very, very strong right now thanks to the weather in the East Coast, with the early Mexican deal showing good things for reds, greens, and hothouse — all items that are hot in Nogales, which is pretty rare to start out like this,” said Mike Way, a managing partner of the company. “Overall, we are up 15-20 percent in volume for our plans for the 2018-19 season.”

Prime Time currently has more peppers in the ground in Mexico than at any other time in the past.

“The crops right now look fantastic,” Meyer said. “There were a few rain events and hurricane season was kind of busy, but we were able to skirt most of that. Where we did have some excess rain, we were able to drain it off with little loss. The reports we’ve been getting down south is that everything is great and we’re ready for nice yields and good quality out of Mexico.”

While that’s the good news, the bad news is that the quality of labor is not what it once was. Way said even in Mexico, the availability of labor is often tight. The weather can also be problematic and it’s not as easy working there as everyone thinks.

“It’s a complicated business running up from the United States to Mexico,” Way said.

“It’s not easy doing both and keeping the same quality up at all times. We just try to do a better job every day down there.”

The company also grows asparagus in the northern part of Mexico and Meyer said that has been a strong crop for Prime Time as well.